In which English Towers is struck down with the lurgy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not a natural carer.  My times of wiping toddler bums are behind me and now I can share the odd drinky and a smutty snigger with my boys, I’m much happier.

I was less happy, therefore, when after spending the entire day on Saturday at the Vans Warped Tour at the Ally Pally, the Prof arrived home in the early hours, cracked my door open and croaked ‘I’m home’ in a very bunged-up manner.  Of course, spending a whole day moshing  (or whatever it is) and yelling along to various bands without drinking or eating much was never going to help his already-ingrained medium to bad cold, but Sunday dawned and it was obvious this was something more.  Coughing gave way to the sound of puking, he was freezing cold/boiling hot/freezing cold and the poor cat eventually gave up her place at the end of the bed when she fell off about three times due to the severity of his hacking cough.

His brother decided the only thing for it was to wear his balaclava in the house at all times, giving the postman a bit of a shock when he rang the doorbell with a special delivery too.

I’m not too bad at the medical side (although I have managed to lose the thermometer – I really must clear up my desk), and I’ve been duly monitoring how much paracetamol are in various cold and flu medicines, and dispensing mugs of hot blackcurrant, teaspoons of cough medicine and lots and lots of hugs.

When I got a text from the Dude, who was at school, saying ‘I really don’t feel well’, (there’s something scientific right there: balaclavas don’t work as germ prevention – possibly why you can’t get them on prescription) things went from bad to worse, and I’ve now got two of them at home, coughing, retching, sweating and generally needing looking after.  I swear as soon as my bum hits the sofa, there’s a feeble ‘muuuuuuum’ from upstairs because someone needs water/medicine/more hugs.  If I carry on at this rate my entire store of hugs will be depleted, and THEN what will I do?

I’ve learned, too, that it’s unbearably sad when your sole skill becomes defunct: nobody’s eaten anything except tiny bits of toast with honey, and my shopping and cooking services haven’t been required. It’s heartbreaking, dear reader.  I want my plague of locusts back, and I want them NOW!

Ninja, disgusted with all this malaise in the house, has made things twice as bad, once by attacking one of my patients, forcing him to spill his hot orange all over his clean bedlinen, and another time by stealthily parking herself on the top stair, so that in a vain attempt not to squash her I managed to drop a basket of washing back down the stairs and twist my ankle trying not to follow it.

Still, the boy managed to tweet ‘I love my Mum’, which was nice, and I’ve put the shoulder of pork I was going to surprise them with into the freezer (they’re desperate for me to make the lovely pulled pork sandwiches that we had round my sis in law’s on bonfire night).  Maybe next weekend eh?  That’s if I don’t come down with it first… *sniff*

Becoming James Bond: GCHQ Apprenticeships in British Intelligence

As you know, we’ve had some ups and downs regarding education.  The Mad Professor is now happily resitting the first year of his A levels, but this isn’t without some hassle, and his future is by no means certain – he wants to go into the Navy and become a pilot, like his Dad, but the armed forces are taking on less and less people these days, so other options are always good.  Imagine the shock horror, then, when we discovered you can be a REAL LIFE JAMES BOND.  Oh yes, GCHQ, the Government Communications Headquarters (a British Intelligence agency) has just announced for the first time that they’re going to be providing apprenticeships.  I know, right? Proper, paid two year courses with the finest intelligence agency in the world – getting your mitts on some of the world’s most cutting edge technology and helping to tackle counter espionage, terrorism and organised crime.  EXCITING!

This course is not just fabulous on the outside, either.  There’s proper university-delivered education, work placements and full on technical training too.  GCHQ is based at Cheltenham, but in the second year, who knows where the students will end up (it’s secret, after all).  Plus there are proper qualifications to be had: a Foundation Degree and a level 4 Diploma in IT Professional Competence.  Plus, of course, you might even get to be a real life secret agent at the end of it. Imagine the doors this would open!

Got a teenager who’d love this too? They’ll need, or be expected to gain by September 2013, three A levels (or equivalent) two of which must be at C or above in science, technology, engineering or maths related subjects.  You can find out more, and register for their open days in Manchester, London and Cheltenham, at


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